Seven of Our Favorite Videogame Scores

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Last month, we reported that Clint Mansell, the composer behind dark musical masterpieces Requiem for a Dream and Black Swan would be composing the score to Mass Effect 3, the upcoming action-RPG sci-fi epic from BioWare. This got us thinking about some of our other favorite musical videogame compositions and, to be honest, led to some extended Final Fantasy music listening. Here are seven of the best videogame scores out there.

1. BioShock
Gary Schyman’s brooding score was the icing on the cake that was the beautifully devastated sunken utopia of the city of Rapture. As Rapture’s denizens fell into insanity, Schyman’s score perfectly captured the mystique and peril of of exploring the halls of a city in shambles.

2. Final Fantasy VII
The Final Fantasy series is known to gamers for its sprawling heroic quests, beautiful visuals, and riveting score. Chief among them is Final Fantasy VII, one of the most celebrated entries in the series. Crafted by master composer Nobuo Uematsu, the music of VII provides backdrop for the intricacies of the game’s success, struggles, and strife.

3. Beyond Good and Evil
2003’s Beyond Good and Evil is often touted as one of the best games that no one played. A critical hit that saw little commercial success, the game is finally getting its due, having been recently released in full HD glory on the Xbox Live marketplace. The game’s score follows the action,with sounds ranging from subtle tones to driving electronic beats.

4. Halo
Before the Halo 2 soundtrack was joined by the likes of Breaking Benjamin and Incubus (to their credit, fairly excellently), the score to the original Halo, crafted by Martin O’Donnell and Michael Salvatori, gave an ancient resonance to the futuristic shooter. The scale of the sound, like the very Halo structure the Master Chief and Cortana were exploring, can be described only one way: massive.

5. Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time
The creative force behind the music of both the Mario and Legend of Zelda series, composer Konji Kondo is one of the most venerable names in the videogame music industry. With Ocarina of Time, the Zelda series entered into its era of dynamic musical interaction. The melodies generated by Link and his Ocarina remain some of the most beautiful pieces of orchestral arrangement in all of gaming.

6. Mega Man 2
Truthfully, I have never played Mega Man 2. That said, I instantly recognize songs from the game’s intricate soundtrack. Composed by Takashi Tateishi, Mega Man 2 like every game in the series, features a different song for each level. Both delicate and powerful, the music blends, fusing with the themed stages. Perhaps most amazing though, is the level of complexity attained in the music despite the limitations of 8-bit MIDI sound.

7. Mass Effect
Though Mansell will be taking over for the third installation, Sam Hulick and Jack Wall deserve recognition for the original Mass Effect score. Composing a collection of audio worthy of a big-budget Hollywood epic, Hulick and Wall gave Mass Effect the massive cinematic feel that resonated with western audiences.

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